Local massage school offers free massage therapy to Southern students

Massage Institute

The Massage Institute of Cleveland (MIC) is offering free massage therapy for students on Southern’s health insurance. In previous years MIC partnered with Hulsey Wellness Center, but due to COVID-19 restrictions the massages are currently only offered at the institute, rather than the massage rooms located in Hulsey. 

MIC is a massage school located in Cleveland, Tenn., about 20 minutes away from Southern. The school offers a six-month training program with an 87% passing rate of the licensing exam MBLEx. Upon completion of the course, graduates are licensed to practice massage therapy in Tennessee. 

James R. Hogwood, an instructor with MIC, believes that massage is extremely beneficial to college students on both a physiological and psychological level. 

 “In college, what happens to a lot of people is that they understand all of the lessons that they’ve been taught, and when they go through their studies at home, they’re able to answer every question,” Hogwood said. “But when they get into the stressful [test] environment, their sympathetic nervous system kicks in, which causes their heart rates to elevate.”

 Hogwood said that this reaction, known as auditory exclusionary — or “tunnel vision,” is extremely common in college students.

“We go into what we call auditory exclusionary and tunnel vision, and we end up with our fine motor skills depleting,” Hogwood said. “As fine motor skills go away, we end up owning gross motor skills, which means only the big muscles in the body are actually working properly. If all this is occurring and the brain is basically shutting down because of this, how do we answer the next question on the exam?”

            The Accent contacted Southern administrators regarding MIC’s previous arrangements with the university and students getting massages off campus, and the Marketing and University Relations Office released the following statement: “University administration altered or discontinued a variety of services on campus to maximize the health and safety of our community during the pandemic. Any time individuals come in close contact, there is risk of COVID-19 exposure. We encourage students and employees to follow safety protocols and best practices both on and off campus.”

Massage therapy, according to Hogwood, can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps a client feel more calm and relaxed.

“Massages help us to stimulate a parasympathetic response from the body, which reverses all of that stress and brings it back down to a normal heart rate,” Hogwood said. “A normal blood pressure allows more blood to start circulating to the brain through a process called hyperemia, where we move the blood around in the body.” 

Hogwood said massages often consist of a lot of motion as clients experience a greater range of motion while on the table. The increased blood flow calms down the nervous system, taking the person out of a fight or flight mentality. The breathing techniques that a client learns during the massage can also be beneficial to practice during a stressful situation.

“When you sit down to take a test and use the breathing techniques that are taught to you by the therapist,” Hogwood states, “you can calm your body back down to how it was during massage.” 

Hogwood said massages often consist of a lot of motion as clients experience a greater range of motion while on the table. The increased blood flow calms down the nervous system, taking the person out of a fight or flight mentality. The breathing techniques that a client learns during the massage can also be beneficial to practice during a stressful situation.

“When you sit down to take a test and use the breathing techniques that are taught to you by the therapist,” Hogwood states, “you can calm your body back down to how it was during massage.” 

For students on Southern’s health insurance (United Healthcare), MIC offers free massage services. In previous years MIC partnered with Husley Wellness Center, but due to COVID-19 restrictions the massages are currently only offered   at the institute, rather than the massage rooms located in Hulsey. Those on other insurance plans or thoseh without insurance can still schedule an appointment. A one-hour session is $45 with a licensed clinician and $30 with a supervised student in clinical training.

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